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2016/05/27

Let Them Fight: My Thoughts on #Googacle

It's wonderful to have the Oracle vs Google trial in San Francisco, so I can have the mental image of Google's Bugdroid and Java's Duke laying waste to the city like Godzilla and the MUTOs. Because, ultimately, that's what this is; two kaiju companies fighting it out at tremendous cost, and a man in a black robe taking the Ken Watanabe role saying "Let Them Fight".

Please, someone who can draw, put this up on DeviantArt. I need to see this.

I've said "I'm biased; I like every Google product I've worked with, and hate every Oracle product I've worked with." But this isn't true, because, on the one hand, VirtualBox and MySQL, and on the other, Google Wave.

B)

But I admit my biases, and I do question them. Sun had the philosophy of "Software is free, hardware pays the bills", and licensed in accordance with that. This is why, after Oracle bought Sun, the Sun team in charge of MySQL could fork the GPLd code, leave to form MariaDB after (as I understand it) little more than a name change, and leave Oracle barely maintaining a direct competitor to their core product.

Sun open-sourced Java. Soon after I started CS, it became the language with which programming is taught at the college level. I think this is stupid, because the main benefit of Java is "write once, run anywhere", which is a direct response to the Unix Wars, where companies would make small weird incompatible changes to differentiate their kit from their competitors. Linux won the Unix wars, and now, you make one ELF-formatted executable and package it in DEB or RPM and you basically have 97.3% of server rooms, or more, once you factor in virtual machines.

"Write once, run anywhere" is a dead concept.

Java is still a core language, though, and Google, moving into a new, untested environment with a new, untested operating system, wanted something that programmers would feel comfortable with, so they went with Java.

But Java runtimes, as they existed at that time, were not up to the task, and they chose to re-implement Java, or at least a small subset of Java, so it behaved like Java to the Java devs they wanted to be Android devs.

This is where the question is. Oracle says "You didn't license it". Google says "We did license it; it's called the GPL". Or, at least, that's my understanding of the arguments; a big lesson of this trial is that developers shouldn't talk like lawyers and lawyers shouldn't talk like developers; that way lies to legal troubles.

The GPL is what makes Linux free, and so much else. There's a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP*) that allowed so much of the changes in the last 20 years. Without LAMP, without GPL, there's no Amazon, no Google, no Facebook.

(Let's pretend, for the purposes of this rant, that this is all good, okay?)

This is a battle between kaiju. Google cares about me as little as Godzilla cares about Elizabeth Olsen. But we still want Godzilla to defeat the MUTOs and Mecha-Godzilla and whatever comes up, and, because it uses as tools the things I associate with freedom, I still want Godzilla ... I mean Google, to win.